A favourite quote and a way by which to approach life.

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Absence explained

If you're a regular reader and have been missing regular new posts I'd like to apologise for my long absence. After the bad night I wrote about in my last entry I had another bad night, with the lungs and also sickness, and I ended up in hospital again. The sickness had been going on for a few days before I went in, and this meant that I couldn't keep down the medication that keeps me breathing, which is how come my lungs went splat. The sickness continued for two weeks of my hospital admission, with me unable to keep any food down and only a few of my meds from the beginning of this week. It was only on Monday or Tuesday that I started to be able to keep down food, and Thursday when I was finally able to hold onto all my meds, so it's been a long and horrible haul.

So things went really wrong on the Tuesday (I think that was 5th February). I phoned the ward I usually go to, but they had no beds. However, just from talking to me (or rather, hearing me really struggle as I tried to say single words to them) the nurse could tell that I needed help quickly and called 999 for a blue-light ambulance, but even in the time it took for the ambulance to arrive I sunk fast and was very ill by the time the paramedics arrived. I was taken to A&E where they put me on the infusion of aminophylline (the drug that usually eventually works for me) I needed, and is recommended by my consultant in a letter from him that I carry with me at all times. There is another drug that many asthmatics having a severe attack have - magnesium - but it's a sulphate and I'm allergic to sulphates so cannot have this, which rather limits what the doctors can do for me. Anyway, they started the aminophylline, kept me in resus for a couple of hours and then transferred me to the EAU's (Emergency Admissions Unit) resus at one of the other hospitals. I stayed in that ward all night, fighting for breath, being sick, unable to sleep or relax or help my desperate battle to stay alive. I was exhausted, but not quite ill enough to be ventilated on ITU. I was though transferred to the EAU's HDU (High Dependency Unit) ward, where I had another long day, long, wakeful though exhausted night, and continued battle for breath. My breathing very gradually improved from critical to bad, although the sickness continued and as I was getting quite dehydrated another infusion of fluids was started. Half way through the Thursday a bed became available at my usual ward at one of the other hospitals in the city, and I was able to be transferred.

It's always a relief to get to my usual ward - 29 - because they know me so well, know the severity and unpredictability of my asthma and what helps. This isn't to say that other hospitals/wards/doctors/nurses can't treat me as well, but if they don't know me and my lungs, there can be difficulties, and that doesn't instill confidence. Because of the terrible state that I get into with my asthma, and the terrifyingly rapid decline that can occur, doctors who don't know me often get frightened, and this was the case at the EAU. I much prefer that I'm kept in the picture and medics tell me what they're thinking, but it's hard when they tell you that they're running out of options ... very hard ... and scary. The EAU consulatant told me this, and also that he was reluctant to put me on a ventilator because he wasn't convinced I'd manage to get off it alive. I had no choice but to fight on alone. It's such hard work and so very lonely, because, despite being constantly surrounded by doctors and nurses, I'm unable to breathe enough to speak. I can't tell them I'm frightened. I daren't cry out my fear with tears as this will only make breathing harder. I don't have the breath or the energy to react to pain when they do the painful arterial blood tests that check various things including my oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. I am a thing that's there to be fixed, and at the disposal of any medic who comes along, who will do what they need to keep me alive. I know they're trying to help. I don't resent them, but I sometimes resent my situation and the isolation within the company. I know what to expect and I'm used to the routine, but I don't think I'll ever get used to the possibility of imminent death and the fight to stay alive. This is probably where my fight comes from - a refusal to accept it as normal, even though it's a frequent occurance in my life - and I am a stronger person for it, I'm sure, but I don't like it and I dread each attack as I feel it coming on.

Well, yet again despite the odds I have survived, and now I am back home. My breathing is better than it was, although not fantastic, and although I haven't been sick for several days now I still have a fair bit of nausea and some abdominal pain. I don't think I'm as 'well' as I usually am when I get out of hospital, and my consultant would've preferred it if I'd stayed in over the weekend, but having got to this stage of betterness it was agreed that I could do the rest of my recuperation at home. After all, several of the medications I take for my lungs suppress my immune system, and while hospital is a good place to be when you need it, it's not a good place to be in terms of picking up nasty bugs. The longer I stay there, the more chance there is of getting an HAI (Hospital Acquired Infection), and when I do that I tend to do it in style. I will need to take things very easy and remember that while my mind may be willing (although it's surprisingly frazzled today), my body isn't. Two weeks of not being able to eat and having only 188 calories a day dripped into your veins over 10-12 hours does nothing for your energy levels, and three weeks lying in bed does nothing for muscle tone. Needless to say, I am very feak and weeble. However, being back at home, surrounded by my own things, getting cuddles from the cat, with peace and quite rather the constant busyness of a hospital ward is all great.

The one thing I have done today, other than sofa surfing, has been to go and buy a Nintendo DS. Often when I've been in hospital I've thought that it'd be good to have some mindless distraction when I'm at the stage of being able to concentrate on anything besides breathing or sleeping, but some how I've never quite got around to treating myself to the games system that might help provide this distraction and time-passing. In anticipation of this recovery time probably being longer than average I decided to go for it ... even though I nearly passed out from the effort while I was in the shop, which was an indicator that I needed to finish my trip and get home. I've had fun this evening lying here slobbed out on the sofa, with the cat on my knee, playing various games and then spending silly amounts online buying more games, most of which should arrive next week.

Now I think it's time to head towards bed ... but quite possibly with my new Nintendo in hand, and no doubt with the cat following as he seems to have velcroed himself to me since I got home yesterday evening >^..^<

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